Meet Ava: A Young Girl Fighting to Survive – With a Smile

Posted April 14th, 2014 by Be The Match and filed in News
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Ava_CookieFor the family of five-year-old Ava, an extremely rare leukemia diagnosis is both a fight and an opportunity.

“When the doctors told us Ava had leukemia, my world came crashing down. Leukemia in itself is devastating, but then to hear that she had an extremely rare form with little research on it – that was hard,” said Esther, Ava’s mother.

A precocious, active youngster, Ava had battled serious allergies throughout her life. So when a skin infection on her leg prompted her parents to take her to the hospital one day, they assumed it was from eczema. The doctors put Ava on antibiotics and ran blood tests to make sure everything was fine. What they found was a heartbreaking diagnosis of Biphenotypic Leukemia, a mixture of both AML and ALL leukemia.

Doctors determined that Ava’s best chance for a cure is a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately her younger sister Gwen was not a match. This is not uncommon. In fact, 70% of patients do not have a match in their family. Sibilings with the same parents have only a 1 in 4 chance of being a match.

Being half Korean and half Taiwanese, finding a perfect match will be a challenge for Ava. But instead of seeing the odds as a setback, the Lee’s see it as an opportunity to help bring attention to the need to add more Asians to Be The Match Registry® – and to educate about why race and ethnicity matter when it comes to bone marrow.

“People don’t realize the need for donors, and if they do, they often fear what a bone marrow transplant entails,” said Esther. “Signing up for the registry and donating marrow – this is not something to be scared of. This is a privilege people can take to help save a life – to be a hero.”

Rallying support for Team Ava Bright

The family, along with family and friends, have been actively recruiting more people of diverse ethnic backgrounds to join the registry. They’ve hosted bone marrow drives in Ava’s honor and are also participated in the Be The Match® Walk+Run in Chicago on April 12.

The Be The Match Walk+Run brings together communities to celebrate and transplant hope. Participants raise critical funds throughout the year to help patients with blood cancers take the next step toward a life-saving marrow transplant.

You have the power to give hope for a cure to Ava and other patients. Sign up for a Walk+Run near you.

Follow Ava’s story.

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